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Don’t Focus on the Upcoming Year’s Predictions

It’s that time of the year when predictions begin dominating the content that is being shared.

While the onslaught of prediction posts becomes tiresome, predictions are valuable as companies are working on what key initiatives they will be focusing their spend on in the upcoming year. These predictions are usually from industry leaders and analysts who are on the cutting edge. The problem for enterprises is that it takes time to implement these changing or evolving trends. By the time budgets are secured, a strategy is developed and vendors are identified, it can be months to even launch a pilot project. That leaves little time for enterprises to see full benefit from these predictions by year’s end.

There is an inherent flaw in this, though. If your company is paying attention to predictions and industry trends, your competition is also. They are likely working through the same process that you’re going through and it is simply a race of who will respond to these changes quicker. The companies that are more nimble will be able to gain an advantage. While this will be beneficial, you can gain more advantage over your competitors by shifting a portion of your focus to what you believe the trends will be 18 months or longer from now. Sure, there will be new platforms that will likely launch in the upcoming year that you’ll need to evaluate and can’t predict yet. But even focusing on the upcoming year’s predictions and trends don’t take that into consideration.

A few of the key predictions and trends that I’ve noticed repeatedly over the past two years have been content marketing, digital journalism, mobile and video. You know who will have the biggest advantage in the upcoming year? Those companies that have been prioritizing this for the past several years. It is now part of their marketing culture. As new platforms launch that support these priorities, they will easily be able to test and integrate these new platforms to bolster their capabilities instead of starting from scratch.

How can you be more forward thinking in the upcoming year?

  1. Brainstorm: Schedule a 1/2 day session with your team to brainstorm ideas and discuss pain points within your company. Think beyond your functional area. Interview colleagues ahead of the session. If you don’t have a team, then schedule that 1/2 day session with yourself. Go somewhere different than your office to give yourself freedom from work distractions and stresses.
  2. Talk with industry colleagues: Call a few non-competitive industry colleagues and ask them what their pain points are. Discuss what they will be focusing on in the upcoming 18 months. Where have they been putting their focus and has that been a focus area for you.
  3. Talk with non-industry friends: Where I find some of my best ideas is when I talk with friends who are not in my industry or functional area. You will be surprised at the ideas that you will gain from chatting with them.
  4. Review customer feedback: If you’ve been listening and tracking customer feedback through your various customer touch points, you should already be aware of what they’re struggling with. Beyond focusing on improving your product offerings, what other ways could you be helpful to them. It may be as simple as asking them.
  5. Launch a pilot: After you’ve done your brainstorming, had your discussions and reviewed customer feedback, launch a pilot to test your hypothesis. This way, if your pilot isn’t successful, you haven’t spent a lot of time, budget or effort on it. If you haven’t read The Lean Startup then I highly recommend you prioritize this in your reading list.

By thinking about industry trends that are 18 months out of more, you will better position yourself ahead of your competition.

Photo Credit: PearlsofJanna